England eye series win but concerns remain: Talking points

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England are hoping to wrap up one-day international series victory early by opening up an unassailable 3-0 lead over Australia at Trent Bridge.

Here, Press Association Sport assesses the current state of play:

Surreal times

England are bidding for an eighth victory in their last nine attempts over five-time World Cup winners – and current holders – Australia. The heady sequence dates back to last summer’s Champions Trophy, and takes in the 4-1 series win down under which followed England’s Ashes humbling. Another success in Nottingham would inevitably turn attention to a possible 5-0 whitewash – something England have never previously achieved against Australia.

England still vulnerable

There were warning signs for home supporters nonetheless, only two days ago in Cardiff, that their bowling attack is far from impervious. England’s strength is in its batting, of course – but especially in the ongoing injury absences of Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes, they need those big totals. At Sophia Gardens, they had 38 runs to spare in the end. When Shaun Marsh was in full flow as Australia’s chase recovered from a sticky start, however, there were more than a few nervous glances as 342 for eight began to look a little shaky.

Hales and hearty?

Alex Hales, right, leaves the field after being dismissed at Cardiff
Alex Hales, right, leaves the field after being dismissed at Cardiff (Nigel French/PA)

Captains on the mend

Tim Paine suffered a bloody nose in the second
Tim Paine suffered a bloody nose in the second ODI (Nigel French/PA)

World Cup pointers

England are top of the International Cricket Council ODI rankings while after defeat in Cardiff, Australia have slipped to sixth and therefore officially their lowest ebb in this format since 1984. It is a very ‘English’ suggestion perhaps to query whether Morgan’s team is ‘peaking too soon’. For what it is worth, Australia batsman Aaron Finch did not think so at his pre-match press conference. He also appears confident the tourists can soon prove much more competitive than they have of late.

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